Vancouver Icons: Vancouver Block Building

Comments 3 by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Vancouver Block Building marks 100 years on Granville this year and according to a Twitter update from user @jesswads to Bob from Vancouver is Awesome, there was cake to celebrate this week. With its neon clock and photogenic white tower, it’s today’s Vancouver Icon photo feature:

(Left) 1910s Archives item# M-11-77. (Right) 1920s Archives item# Str N185.

The building, at 736 Granville Street, is currently owned by Equitable Real Estate: “Completed in 1912, the Vancouver Block is one of Vancouver’s most distinctive landmarks. Characterized by the large illuminated clock tower set atop its fifteen-storey height, the Vancouver Block was one of the most impressive structures designed by the prolific architectural firm of Parr & Fee.”

Vancouver Block
Photo credit: Zorro1968 on Flickr

THE VANCOUVER BLOCK VANCOUVER Vancouver Block cross section
Photo credit: Michael Francis McCarthy & jmv on Flickr

“The heritage value of the Vancouver Block lies in its location near the intersection of Granville and Georgia streets in downtown Vancouver, as a symbol of the Edwardian optimism and rapid growth in Vancouver’s economy and urban fabric in the early twentieth century, in its association with the architectural firm of Parr and Fee, in its landmark status, and in its unique representation of the Edwardian Commercial style.” [Historic Places]

Vancouver Block: Canada Day 2012
Photo credit: kardboard604 on Flickr

Building reflections Clock Tower, Vancouver Block The Vancouver Block
Photo credit: Juan Carlos Partidas & fotoeins & jmv on Flickr

The Vancouver Block clock tower The Vancouver Block clock tower
Photo credit: jmv & jmv on Flickr

“The Vancouver Block was built by Dominic Burns, whose brother Pat built Burns Meats into a cross-Canada powerhouse. Burns hired prominent architects John Parr and Thomas Fee to design a 17-storey building that stretched over three lots and soared 265 feet into the sky.”

“The clock face is 21 feet in diameter, was made of sand-blasted glass, and weighed two tons when it was installed. In 1927, the familiar red and blue neon was added. For many years, the clock was topped by neon signs for three gas companies, “76” (Union Oil), Shell and B/A (British-American).” [Vancouver Sun]

Back in 1998 the neon was removed from the clock, only to return 2 years later. Frances Bula found the answer to this mystery.

The Vancouver Block Building IMGP3224
Photo credit: SqueakyMarmot & elvis_hitler2000 on Flickr

Other Vancouver Icons posts include: Bloedel Conservatory, Centennial Rocket, Canada Place, Old Courthouse/Vancouver Art Gallery, Dominion Building, Science World, Gastown Steam Clock, SFU Burnaby, Commodore Lanes, Siwash Rock, Kitsilano Pool, White Rock Pier, Main Post Office, Planetarium Building, Lord Stanley Statue, Vancouver Library Central Branch, Victory Square, Digital Orca, The Crab Sculpture, Girl in Wetsuit, The Sun Tower, The Hotel Vancouver, The Gassy Jack Statue, The Marine Building, and The Angel of Victory. Should you have a suggestion for the Vancouver Icons series please feel free to leave a note in the comments. It should be a thing, statue, or place that is very visible and recognizable to the public.

3 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. TylerIngramWednesday, December 12th, 2012 — 4:06pm PST

    I’ve worked in there 🙂 I’ve also been on the top of the clock tower and over looked the area. Pretty neat to think that one time it was the highest building Vancouver had. That was changed fairly quick over the years.

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